The U.S. Justice Department’s ban on the entry of President Kurt Waldheim into the United States in private capacity drew expressions of outrage from political circles and the media here Tuesday.
Chancellor Franz Vranitzky, the Socialist Party leader, called the American move “a very serious and shocking matter for the government and for all of Austria.” Nevertheless, he said Monday night, after U.S. Ambassador Ronald Lauder notified him of the decision, that “despite the shock and offense, the matter should be dealt with coolly.”
Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Alois Mock, leader of the conservative Peoples Party which ran Waldheim as its Presidential candidate last summer, rejected the Justice Department’s statement that “a prima facie case of excludability exists” against Waldheim because of his alleged participation in persecutions when he was a Wehrmacht officer in the Balkans during World War II.
The legal proceedings against Waldheim did not conform with European legal practices that an accused person must be heard and cannot be pronounced guilty unless proved to be, Mock said. Waldheim, who has admitted that he concealed the fact of his military service for 40 years, insists the charges made against him are false.
Mock recalled the Austrian Ambassador to Washington, Thomas Klestil, for consultations Monday. He told reporters he had no regrets over Waldheim’s candidacy. He was elected by the democratic process and Austria will not give in to force, Mock said.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.